After rightly rejecting the new draft Constitution for Syria submitted by Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is wisely rejecting the Trump administration concept of the implementation of “safe zones” inside Syria. In the first interview with Western media since the election of Donald Trump, Assad decried the plan as a bad idea that would have no real ability to protect civilians or end the Syrian crisis.
When asked by the interviewer about Trump’s statement that he would “absolutely” create “safe zones” in Syria “for the Syrian people,” Assad responded by saying,
But actually, it won’t [protect civilians], it won’t. Safe zones for the Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security, where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have [the] flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries. This is where you can have a natural safe zone, which is our country. They don’t need safe zones at all. It’s not a realistic idea at all.
When the interviewer pressed Assad on the fact that so many Syrians were displaced and thus “How can you oppose safe zones?” Assad pointed directly at the root of the problem. He stated,
The first thing you have to ask: why were they displaced? If you don’t answer that question, you cannot answer the rest. They were displaced for two reasons: first of all, the terrorist acts and the support from the outside. Second, the [U.S.] embargo on Syria. Many people didn’t only leave Syria because of the security issues. As you can see, Damascus is safe today, it’s nearly normal life, not completely.
But they don’t find a way for life in Syria, so they have to travel abroad in order to find their living. So, if you lift the embargo, and if you stop supporting the terrorists … I’m talking about everyone who supported terrorists, including the United States during Obama’s administration. If you stop all these acts, most of those people will go back to their country.
Indeed. In this short interview clip, Assad echoed the same sentiment and solutions that I and many other Syrian researchers and analysts have been saying from the beginning of the crisis; i.e. if America wants to stop terrorism in Syria, it need only stop funding it, supporting it, and directing it. It’s that simple. The U.S. could also call on its allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.K., France, Qatar, and Israel to do the same. It could work with Russia to eliminate the remnants of terrorist forces and it could provide information and coordinates to both Syria and Russia on the whereabouts of terrorists and terrorist forces.
We should call on the Trump administration to immediately end any and all support for armed groups in Syria, to press America’s allies to stop supporting terrorists, immediately begin rapprochement with Russia and Syria, and look toward the future of investment in rebuilding Syria as a country as well as immediately ending the sanctions currently in place against the Syrian people.